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Discussion:
Rehab - how do you increase lung capacity?
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Hi - I had a bilateral PE in Dec last year. Unprovoked. Probably off coumadin end of June - but likely on an aspirin every day as a precaution.

Slowly recovering. I'll be fine for a month & then sidelined by weather or something for a week. Still get chest discomfort occasionally. I have been given the green light to start exercising. Does anyone do breathing exercise? Singing? Dr said SLOW - "Yoga for dummies" dvd was allowed if I want to try my treadmill only for 1 minute then stop and assess. What do you do to get back in shape. Thoughts & suggestions please.
Posted on 03/17/13, 08:04 pm
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Reply #1 - 03/17/13  8:32pm
" My PE was in June 2012. I recovered pretty well in a couple of months, but I didn't start working out until November. Here are a couple of things I did at different times of my recovery.

I had previously been taking some yoga classes. To help with my recovery, I would practice one of the breathing exercises from the class. The teacher would have us breath in for a count and then out for a count, slowly increasing from 1 to 8. Example: Breathe in for 1 then out for 1; Breathe in for 2 then out for 2. Once you work your way up to 8 then you start moving the count back down again until you are back down to 1. It's relaxing and helps you get used to breathing deeply again.

At the five month mark, I decided to head back to the gym (and stop feeling sorry for myself). I hadn't been feeling any pain in my lungs, but I had gotten horribly out of shape from my knee surgery as well as my PE. I started seeing a trainer to walk me through some exercises, but also started trying to work up to jogging on the treadmill.

I quickly found out that my lungs weren't in as good of shape as I had hoped. I had pain in my lungs on the first day. I also found that I was out of breath after every exercise. I talked to the doctor and he gave me the OK to continue, but I was to stop/slow down when the pain started. The next day I worked out with the trainer again, but this time I took it very slow. I took an extra breath between each repetition and I took time to catch my breath between exercises. Going slowly worked like a charm. It took a while, but I eventually got to the point that I wasn't having to take the extra breath each time.

On the treadmill, I started with an iphone app called "5K" that provides interval training to work up to jogging longer distances. It starts you off just doing 45 seconds with a 90 or 60 second break. I started very slow and followed the program, making sure I could keep my heart rate from going crazy and keep the lung pain away.

It's been 4 months now since I started going to the gym. I feel just as capable as anyone else now, and I work out pretty hard 3 - 5 days a week. It's allowed me to lose 30 pounds and I'm going to be signing up for a 5K run soon.

I hope this gives you some ideas for getting started. Our bodies are all recovering differently, so it might not work the same for you. Good luck! "
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Reply #2 - 03/17/13  8:33pm
" I should note that I still jog/run pretty slowly. I'm working on increasing my speed which I'm guessing is still very tied to my lung capacity. Additional ideas to get to the next step would be appreciated as well. "
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Reply #3 - 03/17/13  9:53pm
" My PE w/ DVT was January 2, 2013. I got back to work a little over a month ago. My body has been tired and achy, so I talked with my doctor last week. He told me to start on the treadmill for 20 mins per day, 5 days per week. Just started yesterday and feel pretty good.
I'm happy to be getting back to excercise. I will do whatever it takes to take care of me.

Always ask your doctor about what and how much excercise.....listen to your body......drink lots of water.

I've been told the recovery process is long and can be different for everyone. Have patience with yourself.

I Pray everyday and thank God for saving me and helping me through the recovery process.

Take care and best to you during your recover. "
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Reply #4 - 03/18/13  9:10am
" I had a respiratory therapist tell me that a deep breathing exercise will help my lungs recover. First breathe in and then breathe in some more until you can't fit any more air in. Then hold your breath for a few seconds- like to the count of 3 or 4. Then breathe all the air out. The key to this exercise is the hold. It forces air into areas of the lungs that normally don't get filled through regular breathing. It's important not to feel dizzy or out of breath. Just do as you can comfortably. Repeat the process several times every hour. I'm finally off my oxygen after three months and doing 45min on the treadmill every day. I have to adjust speed if I start to feel short on oxygen. Best of luck, and hope this helps. "
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Reply #5 - 03/18/13  1:22pm
" I had a bilateral PE just over 2 years ago. I spent a week in the hospital. Was back at work a couple days after I got out. Started walking 2 weeks out (slow and short) and built from there. At 2 months I was walking at a decent pace for 60 minutes. 3 months out I started throwing some running into my walks and that seemed to build rather quickly to all running by 4 months. By 6 months I was back to shorter races up to 5 miles. About 8 months I did a trail half marathon. I think I got back to pre PE pace around that point. I am now 1 month away from my first trail ultra, a 31 mile trail race on a very hilly singletrack course. I think once my doctor felt all the clots where gone it was OK to start pushing my recovery. It was not always easy in the beginning but each time i pushed I would notice an easier time next outing. "
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Reply #6 - 03/18/13  2:08pm
" Alice, personally, I think increasing your work out time will help you. Start at 10-15 minutes. And then work up from there to 20, 25, etc. You don't have to kill yourself. Go slow at first. I'd suggest the treadmill, stationary bike, or swimming. Yoga's good for the breathing too but I

A lot of how long or fast etc may be contingent on what kind of shape you were in prior to the PE. And for some people, if they had a DVT, that actually can be the hardest part in establishing exercise again, because it's so painful.

There are ways to increase your lung capacity without having to workout like an Olympian. Taking the stairs, doing house hold chores like vacuuming and mopping at a decent clip, singing your head off to the radio (my personal favorite) are all little things that make a big difference in my book.

I "
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Reply #7 - 03/18/13  2:10pm
" I meant to say that Yoga's good for the breathing too but I think the breathing from some cardio is a good way to really give you lungs a good work out. "
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Reply #8 - 03/25/13  1:40pm
" Thanks - sadly I was not in good shape prior - funny I was just starting an exercise/nutrition regeme when this mess hit. I like the singing! Good idea - should have thought of that. Treadmill cannot manage yet - get too tired - but started my yoga for dummies DVD - just working on breathing now. Anyone find the weather bothering you as you recover? 4 months out & I still get chest discomfort - seems to be weather influenced... ? "
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Reply #9 - 03/25/13  4:47pm
" Well when people give advice about what they did post PE for exercise, so much depends on your conditioning prior to the PE, I believe. I mean, I was in good shape prior to the PE, but I can't stand running; never liked it, so if had to go out and just start running after my PE, it would have killed me. But I did a lot of hiking and biking prior to my PE, as well as playing sports. So I just want back to those things.

You don't need to get on the treadmill but I do believe that along with the yoga a small walk may help your lungs and your overall conditioning and strength. Just start by going for walks in the neighborhood or your yard for a short time, real slow. If the weather bothers you, and many of us have this issue, a lot of people just put a scarf over their chest and /or mouth.

Hang in there and keep it up! "

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